An easy way to remember external resources is with the acronym MART. The analogy I’ll give is to think about an actual mart, or market. You don’t control their hours of operation, the prices they charge, or the inventory they stock. 

You don’t have control, but you do have choice.

You may have a choice over whether you shop there or somewhere else. Perhaps you have a choice over whether you purchase something at full price or wait until it goes on sale. You may even suggest new items to the store manager. 

Interestingly, though, we don’t always feel as though we have that same agency – that same ability to choose – when it comes to the external obstacles we face (the MART). I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard statements like: 

  • Money – “I don’t have the money to do this right now.”
  • Access – “I’m not in the room where these decisions are being made.”
  • Resources – “I don’t have the expertise to do this on my own.”
  • Time – “When I retire, I’ll have time to pursue this.”

External obstacles are problematic because we think of them as binary (if, then) statements. If I have enough money, then I can do this. Until then, I cannot even start. This line of thinking is disempowering. 

I would offer that a better framing is to ask yourself, what is the highest and best use of my MART? In other words, what could I do that would take little or no money but still see me making progress? Or, what conversations could I have with those in the room (or the influencers of those in the room) to help ensure that my perspective is understood? Or, who does have the expertise I need at this moment? Or, how might I carve a bit of time out of my schedule to prioritize working toward my long-term vision?

While we might all prefer an inexhaustible MART, a world with more money, access, time, and resources than we could ever need, that’s just not reality. What is reality, what you can control, is your ability to capitalize on those constraints. To be able to leverage those current conditions in a way that enables you to continue to make progress toward your dreams. 

I’d love to hear from you. What’s one current constraint that you are facing right now and what might it look like to make progress toward your goals given that limitation?